Police: Gypsum father was shot twice in head
A 13-year-old Catholic school student and standout karate competitor has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his father, who police say was shot twice in the head six days before his body was found in the home they shared.
Kai Kelly was arrested Monday after Eagle County sheriff’s deputies went to the Gypsum home he shared with his father, Joseph Kelly Jr., to check on the welfare of the father.
Joseph Kelly had not shown up for his job at the Eagle County ECO Transit Department for several days, and his son had called in to report that his 50-year-old father was sick.
Joseph Kelly also did not show up for an April 30 meeting with sheriff’s deputies to discuss an investigation into a graffiti incident that his son was suspected of being involved in.
When deputies went to the home around 11:30 a.m. Monday, Kai Kelly answered the door and told them his father was dead. Deputies found the elder Kelly with a gunshot wound to the back of the head and one to the temple. He had been shot with a .22 rifle.
Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said the autopsy done Tuesday showed he had been dead about six days.
Kai Kelly was a student at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School, a private school of about 125 students in nearby Edwards.
“It’s a sad day for us,” said Sue Huseby, the secretary at St. Clare’s.
The school had counselors on hand Tuesday for students and their families. Prayer sessions and a Mass also were being held at the school, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Denver said.
Kai Kelly was also a student at Shotokan Karate of Vail in Gypsum. He had won third place at the U.S. Karate Nationals in November.
“He seemed to be a normal kid. I never heard of any problems with him, and I was not aware of any problems between he and his dad,” said Jeff Hermans, the owner of Shotokan and Kai’s instructor.
Hermans said Kai and his father hiked together often. He said Kai’s mother had not lived at the home for about a year and a half.
The arrest rocked this town of 6,400 that lies along Interstate 70 between Glenwood Springs and Vail and is home to the busy Eagle County Regional Airport that serves the Vail resort area.
Dan Dougherty, a spokesman for Eagle County Schools, said counselors were activated at Gypsum public schools Tuesday even though the boy suspected of murder attended a private school. He said the boy had friends in public schools.
“This is a small community, and it hurts everyone,” Dougherty said.
“It’s a real tragedy. What else can you say?” said pastor Robert Kinkel, of the St. Clare of Assisi Parish, who led prayers at the school Tuesday afternoon.
Kai Kelly was booked into the Eagle County Detention Facility on Monday and was transferred to the Mount View Youth Services Center in Jefferson County. The 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has filed a petition listing charges of first-degree murder and criminal mischief and a crime-of-violence sentence enhancement.
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